Important Chicago city council committee meeting today on bike sharing and speed cameras


A raised crosswalk is one traffic calming device that hasn’t been tried beyond the two installations in the Lincoln Square pedestrian area at Lawrence and Lincoln Avenues. 

Updated 23:53: Today’s meeting was a hearing only about speed cameras. A second meeting is scheduled for Friday, April 13th, 2012, at 10 AM, to consider an ordinance to enter into a contract with Alta for bike sharing and the other agenda items (pdf). Updated Friday, April 13, 2012, 17:15: The committee approved the ordinance to enter into a contract with Alta Bicycle Share. 

The Pedestrian and Traffic Safety committee rescheduled their important meeting from last week to today at 1 PM in City Council Chambers, 2nd floor of City Hall, 121 N LaSalle Street. The committee, chaired by 39th Ward Alderman Margaret Laurino, will receive a presentation from Chicago Department of Transportation Managing Deputy Commissioner Scott Kubly on bike sharing.

The committee will also be discussing speed camerasFrom the Chicago Sun-Times today:

Chicago has installed 10,000 speed humps in streets and alleys and created 450 cul-de-sacs, 400 traffic circles and 250 “bump-out” curbs since 2005 alone — many of them near schools and parks — raising questions about why the city also needs speed cameras.

32nd Ward Alderman Waguespack is rightfully skeptical, but I don’t think it’s just because of the presence of speed humps.

“With the 10,000 speed humps, they were obviously spending money on it, so it has to be working. What I said to them was, show me that none of these things have worked around schools and parks and maybe you have an argument for speed cameras,” Waguespack said.

Before blanketing the city with cameras, Waguespack urged the mayor to experiment with “dynamic displays” that flash the speed as a motorist drives by.

I believe there are many other traffic calming “devices” that the City has yet to try and I think that’s not nearly enough “bump outs” (this makes the crossing distance shorter, reduces car speeds around turns, and generally reduces car speeds in through movements). Speed humps are not practical on wider streets like Archer Avenue, where speed cameras would be eligible to be installed in certain places, perhaps at 49th Street, the location of Marie Curie High School, and the site of 66 crashes between automobiles and pedestrians and bicycles.

47th Ward Alderman Pawar said Tuesday on Twitter that he would be voting no.


This screenshot shows a map of the intersection of 49th and Archer with all pedestrian and bicycle crashes from 2005-2010, in front of Marie Curie High School. 

Other traffic calming possibilities are raised intersections, raised crosswalks, chicanes, textured roadway surface, and more. Many of these are friendlier to cycling than speed humps and cul-de-sacs. Cul-de-sacs could easily have cut-throughs for bicycling, but oddly don’t. A CDOT staffer said at the Chicago Bike Swap that they would soon be testing new, bicycle friendly speed humps. See all of the available traffic calming devices at the Online Traffic Demand Management Encyclopedia.

4 thoughts on “Important Chicago city council committee meeting today on bike sharing and speed cameras”

  1. Most of our cul de sac treatments in Beverly do have cut throughs, although some of them are poorly done (from a bike perspective) and not very rideable.  The same is true of our traffic diverters.  Uneven pavement and craters in the cut throughs are the biggest problems.  In some locations, accumulation of leaves and snow can also be a problem.

    I’d like to see much wider use made of bumpouts and raised crosswalks.  I’m encouraging our alderman to consider bumpouts for a few intersections on 95th and Western.  They could also be useful near some of our Metra stations, where we have crosswalks at uncontrolled intersections and drivers rarely yield to peds.

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